All drugs — prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines, street drugs, alcohol or cigarettes – have risks. Even small risks can add up. The baby developing inside you shares your blood and is exposed to the drugs you use during pregnancy. Some drugs can be very harmful to both you and your developing baby.

No two women are the same and each pregnancy is different. The effects of drugs used during pregnancy depend upon:

  • Which drug or drugs are used
  • How much of the drug is taken
  • How often the drugs are used
  • When, during pregnancy, the drugs are taken
  • Your medical history and mental and physical health

Talk to Your Doctor

Now that you are pregnant, you really need to talk to your doctor if you:

  • Smoke – Now is the time to quit! Check out the Kick bad habits section of this website for resources to help you kick the habit or talk with your healthcare provider.
  • Use any street drugs – Tell your healthcare team so they can help! Call the Substance Use Specialist at 1-800-688-4232 for help getting treatment! See resources in the Kick bad habits section of this website to learn what your addiction may do to your baby.
  • Drink alcohol – Alcohol can cause damage to your developing baby. If you are pregnant, even one drink can be too much. No amount of alcohol is known to be safe for your baby. Your doctor can help you get help.
  • Take any prescription medicine – Your doctor will be able to adjust doses or switch medications if what you are using isn’t good for your growing baby.

  • Use over-the-counter medicines, take vitamins, herbs or other supplements – Before you take any over-the-counter drugs or herbs, ask your doctor or pharmacist about possible dangers. Do not use anything that your doctor or nurse did not tell you to take during this pregnancy. For more information about medicines during pregnancy visit:
    Medication Exposures During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).
  • Breathe the cigarette smoke of others – Secondhand smoke is dangerous for you and your baby – before and after it is born. Download your copy of “Oh Baby! We want to keep you safe from secondhand smoke” for ways you can keep the air around you and your baby smoke-free. (Slow download? Try the plain text version.)


North Carolina